Is your business aware of the latest food recalls and outbreaks? Receiving news updates and alerts through websites provided by government agencies (e.g., CDC, FDA, USDA, and FoodSafety.gov), food safety consulting services, or other reliable resources can help you stay informed about these situations. By using these resources, you can make quick, informed choices to help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses or infections.
To help keep consumers safe, you should follow the guidelines or instructions released by the FDA when a product is recalled. For example, if the product has an undeclared allergen, it may still be safe to consume but you should disclose the allergen to the consumer prior to serving it. If the recall involves a dangerous microorganism such as Salmonella, the FDA may recommend you discard the product and do not serve it. You should also wash and sanitize areas where the recalled product was stored.
The most recent widespread food safety alert was issued by the CDC advising consumers, retailers, and restaurants not to eat or sell any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California region due to an outbreak of E. coli infections. Most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some are pathogenic, meaning they can cause sickness, diarrhea, or illness outside the intestinal tract. Symptoms vary, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, and in some cases a low-grade fever. Signs of infection typically begin 2 to 8 days after ingesting the bacteria, and last 5 to 7 days. Most infections are mild, but some may be severe and/or life-threatening.
Buying local produce when possible will help avoid outbreaks originating on the Mainland and internationally. Individuals who believe they have come in contact with contaminated food and are showing symptoms of foodborne illnesses or infections such as E.coli, hepatitis A, or Salmonella should contact their doctor, or use the telemedicine service that is available through most health plans.
John E. Aoki, M.D., CHCQM, FABQAURP
Chief Medical Officer
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